According to the criminal laws in the USA, it is illegal to own or possess certain drugs and narcotic substances which are frequently referred to as the “controlled substances”. Be it heroin, marijuana or some other kind of regulated substance, being in possession of such drugs is considered a crime under the state and federal laws of USA. Possessing illegal or controlled substances is a major crime in USA, with a large portion of the criminal cases attributed to any area within the country. While many people believe the frequency of such cases make drug possession a small offense, being charged with it can actually lead to major consequences.
There are a number of drugs and narcotic substances that are listed by state and federal government as controlled substances. Controlled substances are referred to in this way as these drugs are only available through a valid medical prescription. Based on the Controlled Substances Act of 21 U.S.C.A. Section 801, there are five different schedules of drugs from I to V, with the deadliest drugs being grouped under Schedule I and Schedule V consisting of the least dangerous ones. Ownership of a controlled substance is deemed illegal by the federal and state laws, and if a person is convicted with the charge he or she may have to undergo the penalties associated with it as ordered by the court.
The division of CDS (controlled dangerous substances) into the five schedules has been illustrated below:
- Schedule I include drugs like heroine and synthetic opiates which are more open to abuse, have got no accepted or definite medical application, or are deemed unsafe for being used in medical treatment even under supervision.
- The Schedule II drugs like opium and its various derivatives also have a very high potential for being abused. They have an accepted form of usage for medical purposes and can lead to severe physical and psychological dependence if abused.
- The Schedule III drugs like anabolic steroids have an abuse potential that is less than the Schedule I or II substances. They have accepted medical usage and can result in high psychological dependence and moderate or low physical dependence when abused.
- The Schedule IV drugs like lorazepam have lower abuse potential than the Schedule III drugs. They also have acceptable medical usage and can result in limited physical and psychological dependence compared to the Schedule III drugs.
- The Schedule V drugs are least dangerous of all. They also have the lowest abuse potential, accepted medical usage, and may lead to only a very limited psychological or physical dependence. The Schedule V drugs include medicines which have very small portions of narcotic substances specified under Colorado Stat. Ann. Section 18-18-203 to 18-18-207.
The penalties for illegal possession of these drugs depend on type of drug involved and the specific amount. Primarily, three different types of CDS possession cases are listed, namely, petty offenses, misdemeanors and felonies.
Petty offenses are said to be the least serious controlled dangerous substances (CDS) possession crime. These are again divided into 2 classes. The Class 1 cases include petty offense possessions and are punishable by monetary fine whose amount depends on the section to which the offense correlates.
Misdemeanors are less serious crimes than the felonies and are divided into 3 classes. Class 1 and Class 2 relate to misdemeanor possession crimes.
· Class 1 misdemeanors – These are punishable by 6 to 18 months of incarceration or a monetary fine whose amount can be anywhere between $600 and $5000, or both.
· Class 2 misdemeanors – These are punishable by 3 months to a year of incarceration or a fine of $250 to $1000, or both.
According to Colorado laws, drug-based felonies are divided into six classes. The Class 1 felonies are said to be the most serious of all and the Class 6 felony cases are least serious. All cases pertaining to possession of CDS for personal usage are classified Class 4, 5, or 6 felonies.
· Class 4 felonies – These are punishable by 2 to 6 years of incarceration or a fine of $2000 to $500000, or both.
· Class 5 felonies – These are punishable by 1 to 4 years of incarceration or a fine of $1000 to $100000, or both.
· Class 6 felonies – These are punishable by 1 to 2 years of incarceration or a fine of $1000 to $100000, or both.
Felony possession of controlled dangerous substances
Other than marijuana, all crimes pertaining to possession of CDS are felonies. The class of crime depends on the amount and type of CDS possessed by the defendant.
- Possession of 4 grams or less of some substance containing any amount of ketamine, flunitrazepam, or any other form of Schedule I/Schedule II drugs is considered a Class 6 felony.
- Possession of more than 4 grams or less of some substance containing any amount of ketamine, flunitrazepam or some other type of Schedule I/Schedule II drugs is considered a Class 4 felony.
- Possession of 2 grams or less of a substance that has any quantity of methamphetamines is considered a Class 6 felony.
- Possession of two grams or more of any substance that contains any amount of methamphetamines is a Class 4 felony.
- Possession or 12 ounces of marijuana or more is considered a Class 6 felony.
- Possession of 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate or more is considered a Class 6 felony.
Misdemeanor Possession of controlled dangerous substances
Possessing any substance containing any amount of Schedule III, IV, or V drugs, other than ketamine or flunitrazepam is considered Class I misdemeanor.
While the use of medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor as a treatment for some ailment is legal, the unlawful usage of another individual’s marijuana is not. Such cases are classified under Class 1 misdemeanors.
Possession of marijuana substance within a detention facility
Possessing up to 8 ounces of marijuana in a detention center is considered a Class 6 felony. Any subsequent conviction involving more than an ounce of marijuana is treated as a Class 5 felony.
Possessing drug paraphernalia is considered as a Class 2 petty offense that is punishable by a $100 fine.
Synthetic Cannabinoid/Salvia Divinorum
If a person is convicted for the possession of any quantity of synthetic cannabinoid/salvia divinorum (psychoactive plant known for producing hallucinatory experiences) for personal use, it is considered as a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Using toxic vapors for intoxication is a type of Class 1 petty offense. The various types of toxic vapors include:
· Isopropyl alcohol
Defendants having numerous felony convictions for CDS possession face severely harsh punishment. The class 6 felonies are exempted from the habitual offender's enhanced penalties.
Two or additional prior convictions
If a defendant has two or more felony priors from Colorado or any other state, is punishable with incarceration for three times of maximum penalty of the underlying condition when a third felony is acted out within a 10-year period.
Three or additional prior convictions
If a defendant already has 3 or more felony priors either from Colorado or some another state, and is convicted with a 4th one within a 10-year period, then he or she is punishable with four times the incarceration for what is maximum for that underlying conviction.
If you want to defend Colorado controlled substance charge, then you will definitely need the assistance of a professional attorney who has enough experience in handling drug-related cases. Convictions for CDS possessions can lead to lifelong consequences and a drug defense lawyer who is skilled at handling these types of cases can help you to understand the charges that you are facing, whether you have any means of defending yourself or the options that you have in your hands as well as the possible outcome of your case.